Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Sound of the Judge's Whistle

The one good thing I have to say about this trial is how nice the trial site was.  The drive up was gorgeous.  The woods in the park were even more gorgeous.  Marge loved it.  She showed absolutely no signs of being hurt as she ran around in the woods, trying to find critters to hunt.  I definitely think I would trial there again.

However, the rest wasn't so pretty.  Marge's performance in the ring yesterday was directly correlated with how well the dogs before her did.

They all got whistled off the course.  Marge does not like whistles, especially ones that don't sound like "normal whistles" and bear some semblance to the sound of a high-pitched firework or smoke alarm.

Our first run was Standard.  I wasn't in love with the course, but it wasn't terrible.  

The amount of waiting time at the start was ridiculous.  They had to fix a tunnel that moved.  I know they want to move the trial along quickly, I know.  But if they weren't so worried about the next dog being in the ring while the other dog was still on course, my dog wouldn't have tried to run away when she heard said dog being whistled, because I would have been outside the ring with treats.

Maybe I shouldn't have run her after the whole whistle business.  I'm not sure.  The beginning of the course, despite for the lack of stopping on the dog walk, wasn't too bad.  She hit her 2o2o on the A-Frame, but when I tried to front cross before releasing her, she took my movement as a cue to go. So, I had to rear the 180. Then we had the off-course tunnel before the weaves (lots of dogs did this), the hop-off-hop-on table, and then..

..another teeter flyoff.  Her second in a trial this year.  The judge gasped. Marisa blamed me for it, because I tried to rear cross behind the teeter, but I really think it was a case of Marge not hearing me say "teeter! bang it! bang it!" because she was stressing and couldn't follow direction.

I wasn't going to leave the ring on that note, so I sent her over the last two jumps.  But she was clearly not with me at that point.

The first three letters on my score card read "W T F," which I thought was extremely telling of the whole thing.

The next run, I almost missed my walkthrough because I was out playing with Marge.  Except for one area, the course looked really nice.  It was similar to the JWW course we ran and succeeded on a couple of weeks ago. 

But, more dogs got whistled, and this judge was using a really high pitched whistle, and seemed to like blowing it not just once, but several times.  I wish I could have snatched it away from her. At least we weren't in the ring at this point.

The pinwheel was a disaster, she missed a jump and then did all sorts of circly, stressy stuff.  Her weaves were nice and the ending was nice.  

There were bright spots, I guess.  But the whole thing just blows my mind.  Since September, there seems to be always one thing that goes wrong at trials.  Planes overhead.  Automatic table counts.  $%@$ing whistles.   She never used to stress at trials, now she is.  Why?  Why was the Spring so damn good, and now the Fall is awful?

Everyone tells me I need to do more trials.  I *think* I agree with that, but I don't really know.  If I do 2 days of a trial, there's a chance that Marge will be more comfortable the next day, because she had already been there the day before.  There's also the chance that she will be more stressed.

Other people tell me I need to trial over the winter, indoors.  I REALLY don't want to do this.  I do not see the logic at all in adding yet another variable (being indoors) to the trial experience while Marge is going through this slump.  Their line of thinking is that it will get her in the ring and get her "used" to the idea of trialing.  My line of thinking is that I have an environmentally sensitive, sound phobic dog, and trialing indoors would be stupid.  Run-throughs indoors?  THAT'S a good thought - especially since I could treat it like a trial and then surprise her with cookies in the middle of the course.

Is that what I'm supposed to do?  Essentially flood my dog until she "gets used" to being at trials?  I'm afraid I'm going to ruin the whole thing for her.  Trialing, for her, is about being out for an entire day.  She gets to meet friends, go on walks, get treats, etc.  The actual agility part, with warm-up, is probably only about an hour of the entire day (we were in this park for at least 7 or 8 hours).  Despite me being really upset about the agility, Marge didn't have a bad time overall today.  I'd hate to ruin that by being less selective about where I trial her and just take her everywhere for the purpose of getting her more ring experience.

I have one more outdoor trial this year, in two weeks, at the park near my house.  It removes a LOT of variables - I know the trial site, I can go home between runs, I don't have to rely on anyone else to drive me there.  If she doesn't show me that she feels better about trialing, then I guess it's going to be a really long winter.  And, it will be hard to get back in to the ring come next year,

I'd definitely appreciate some thoughts on this whole thing.

On an unrelated note, yesterday marked the first day that Marge has traveled through all 5 boroughs of New York City.  I guess I have a well-traveled dog.  Here she is, outside the battery tunnel.


PoochesForPeace October 24, 2010 at 11:20 AM  

I have no advice for agility trial stuff, but i love seeing the videos! Despite being stressed, it looks like Marge really has fun!

houndstooth October 24, 2010 at 12:30 PM  

I don't do agility myself, so I really can't advise about that. All I can say is that you seem very stressed about it.

Kim October 24, 2010 at 12:42 PM  

I know I don't know Marge, or you, but I honestly don't see stress in her run...her tail is wagging, she looks likes she's having fun...and she simply looks like green trial dog. But I wouldn't have said stressed. I don't want to be, or sound, rude, but it's almost like you're looking to blame her past on why she's not perfect in the ring, and you stress about it. Relax. It stresses me out just reading your posts! She looks like a nice happy dog in the ring and when it all comes together those perfect runs will come more frequently :)

Sam October 24, 2010 at 12:53 PM  

I never take constructive criticism as being rude! It's true, I probably do attribute a lot of what goes wrong with Marge to what life experiences. That's something I never really considered. Whether that's warranted or not is the question, I suppose!

It's pretty much split evenly as to what people think - half of them say it's just a green dog thing, the other half say "she's stressing." My trainer is in the latter half.

At the last trial, where she goofed off, that didn't feel like stress to me. This trial was completely different.

And I will reiterate - it's not about Q'ing. I really don't want to come off as a sore loser. I'm never upset because my dog made a mistake. I only get upset when I feel like my dog doesn't want to work with me, because it makes me feel like I might be doing something that I shouldn't be doing.

Kim October 24, 2010 at 1:21 PM  

I'll reiterate too...perfect runs to me mean only that my dog was perfect...perfectly listening and connected with me. That doesn't mean we Q'd...I make mistakes all the time, I just never let my dong know that I made a mistake. I go with it and know that she was perfect because she listened perfectly to what I was just happened to be wrong ;) You definately DO NOT sound like a sore loser! Just someone trying to figure out the differences between how runs go from practice to a trial. I very much think that 99% of the time it's us, not them.

Sara October 24, 2010 at 1:34 PM  

About your first run, I wouldn't have gone in the ring while the other dog was in there. I tell the ring steward that I am have to wait until the other dog leaves. It takes a lot of stress off of Oreo, and assures there will be less standing around time. Plus, if they have to fix something, or are shuffling paperwork while we are in the ring, I often start running anyway, and will just take an NQ. No one has ever given me a problem about it. However, I don't do AKC, maybe they aren't as understanding.

The instructor at our shy dog seminar told us "don't let anyone rush you into the ring".

I think only you can decide if trialing more will help Marge. You know her best.

Sam October 24, 2010 at 1:40 PM  

I definitely agree with you - it is usually us. Even if it IS them and not a handler error kind of thing, it's because WE did something wrong.. put them in a situation they shouldn't be in, didn't proof enough, etc. Blaming the dog never helps. Perhaps that's why I beat myself up so much - when she doesn't perform to her capability, I feel like I'm doing something that's causing that. And I don't know how to make it better. Is it really just about going out there and getting ring experience? I feel like there's more than that - like the environment of a trial has suddenly become a stressor for her (and me).

P.S. - if you have a blog, let me know! I always like to reciprocate when someone is nice enough to post on my blog, and you've certainly taken a lot of time out to discuss this and think about this.

Sue October 24, 2010 at 2:03 PM  

Sam, What I find interesting is that she is great on weaves. If she was really stressed, wouldn't she pop out on the weaves. I agree she didn't look stressed, more like she was excited and not paying attention.

I know I cause my dogs to act out when I get stressed and I have to work on that.

Kim October 24, 2010 at 2:05 PM  

I think you hit it on the head...a lot of this may be just ring experience. My newest was spot on in training, even when we trained in new places, but somehow the trial environment is different and her first 5 trials were...well...interesting :) She was having a ball though so I just went with it. Now she's settled into the work aspect of trialing, like she is in training, and while she's obviously still having fun, she's back to having fun "with" me instead of just near me ;) More time, more trials, simply more experience is the ticket. Stick with it, you are on the right path with her! Her tail wagging and grins during her runs I think say it all :)

I'm afraid I don't have a blog, though I've thought about starting one since I'd like to do what others do, like you, and use it as a training diary for my newest dog. I really enjoy reading agility and other types of dog blogs...I think they are a great way to connect with others and a great way to learn about new things to try with my own dogs. I really enjoy reading yours!

Golden Samantha October 24, 2010 at 2:37 PM  

Hi Sam! Always soooo interesting to watch your agility movies - I hunger to try it, but walking fast is my best speed these days - think Avalon would love it... Well, I think Marge did great - I do see her stressy times, but Sammie would freak at high decibel whistles too and she is pretty mellow. Wow - don't have any thoughts, but I wouldn't "flood" Sammie with trials all the time, cause she might freak from that as much as too little too far apart. I think you are doing a super job with Marge!!! Sam just did two days (brought everybody home for the night tho)at a trial; one Open A class each day and seemed to do fine, but even with three more days that I could have entered her, I wouldn't have done it! About to post about it! Cheers to you and Marge!
Hugs xoxoxo
Sammie and Avalon

Amy / Layla the Malamute October 24, 2010 at 3:52 PM  

I've tried posting my comment like 5 times and they keep saying it's too long. I'll split it into multiple comments, I guess.

First of all, the site does look really nice. I'm glad to see that, people at class last week were complaining about the site, but they're the type to complain about anything. Now that I see for myself what it's like, I'll be more likely to enter shows there.

Oh, whistles. Layla would hate them too. I like to think of her as pretty much bombproof, nothing phases her - she passed the Temperament Test where someone fired a gun 3 times behind her and barely looked up; the Chief TestMaster or whoever asked if I lived on a firing range because she had such little response - but smoke detectors and fire alarms (the kind they have in school) just affect her so badly. So, I know what you mean about the whistles.

I know they want to keep the trial moving smoothly, too, but some of them need to calm the F down. Especially because when they run their own dogs, half of them aren't anywhere near the ring, but nobody says anything.

I think that you did the right thing running with her after the whistle thing. Similar to how when kids hurt themselves, if you make them think it's a big deal, they'll worry more? My hypochondriac mother was the worst at this and now my brother, who'll be 18 next month and is generally a tough, strong guy, faints at the sight of blood. How embarrassing for him. He has to be careful what movies he sees with his friends. Sometimes blood is okay, sometimes it's something else. But it's because of her reaction to anything. So, since you kept her in the ring after the whistles, yes she was still stressed about it, but she understood that it's nothing to really run away from.

Amy / Layla the Malamute October 24, 2010 at 3:52 PM  

For the first run, I really don't see stress. I see excitement and happiness. I think if she was stressed, she wouldn't have been able to hold her A-Frame. She did take the tunnel, but it was right there, and like you said other dogs did too. Like another poster said, if she was stressed she would NOT have been able to do the weave poles. That takes more mental focus and concentration than any other obstacle, so it's a good barometer of how stressed she is.

The table fault looks like it was just her wanting to keep moving she ran right over it. But, her down is FANTASTIC. That's another thing, if she was really stressed, I think she'd have circled/sniffed the table before downing.

I don't know why she did the Teeter fly off. I have no opinion or guess on that one.

But, looking at how she was at the end of the course, she looked HAPPY. Very happy, her tail was wagging, and her body posture didn't look tense.

For the second run, since the weaves were at almost the end of the course, I'd have to say again that she wasn't very stressed. If she was, I don't see her being able to switch back to being so focused so quickly.

Like I said, I don't see it as a stress problem. I think she's just excited and distracted. I don't know what your warmup is like, but maybe do more things to focus her on you? Attention games or something?

I think Marge can handle a 2 day trial. Easily. If you go the second day and she looks apprehensive, you can always scratch the entry and just make it a fun day for her, full of treats and praise and put a good imagine in her head for next time. But, I think she'll be super excited to have another whole day to do agility. I think in the spring, you should enter for two days and just take the second one as a "we'll see" day.

I wouldn't trial indoors until you've done some run throughs and see how she responds. I think she'll surprise you and handle it better than expected. You do train indoors sometimes. Yeah it's a new place with new equipment, but it'll help her focus even better overall if she can work through that. Even if you didn't take her into the ring but just took her to a regular indoor trial and did a lot of focus games, you'd see how she reacts and also be able to gauge how well she'd handle it.

I don't believe in flooding - it didn't work for people, and won't work for dogs. But I think flooding is an extreme. Taking her to an indoor trial isn't flooding. Sure, there are a lot of new variables there, but not so many that I'd consider it flooding. If you trialed her indoors and had the judge not stop blowing their whistle the entire time on purpose, that'd be flooding. But introducing her to difficult situations wouldn't be.

She loves agility. She loves going places with you. I don't think she'd be so miserable and shut down at an indoor trial that she'd change her mind about agility forever. She might not care for indoor trials as much, but I don't think it would affect her at outdoor trials.

I think of my relationship with Layla as an equal partnership. I'm not the master, or "mommy" or anything. We're equals, and best friends. But, in agility and obedience, I'm the leader. I'm there to translate what the judge wants, so that Layla and I can do it together. It might sound a little stupid, but I agree with something I read in Clean Run about how the human has to be like a Coach. You have to be the motivator, the inspiration, everything.

So, in agility with Marge, think of yourself like that. I'm sure she understands how much you've done and how much you've given up for her. If you introduce her to difficult situations with common sense (which I'm sure you will) and a matter-of-fact attitude, she'll see that you want new things and she'll try to do them for you.

Amy / Layla the Malamute October 24, 2010 at 3:53 PM  

I was reading something about one of the Animal Communicators and how dogs don't see things in negatives. They used the obedience Stays as an example - if you're standing there thinking, "Don't break your stay" they don't see the "don't" and break their stay. Instead, they advised to think positive, "stay right there" thoughts. Maybe if you start looking at her behavior as something other than negative stress, she'll pick up on that?

I think you have to be careful about protecting her too much from things that you're worried will give her a bad reaction. Remember that movie/book, The Secret Garden? The boy had some breathing problem (I think) so he was never allowed outside of his room, and he ended up being convinced that he shouldn't leave his room either. Then, when he went outside finally, he was fine and loved it.

I understand wanting to shield Marge from stressful situations, but you'll make yourself crazy doing it. I really think she'll surprise you by how well she reacts to things when she's given the opportunity. Not by flooding, but by easy introductions.

Sorry that wound up being so long

Anonymous October 24, 2010 at 4:43 PM  

Even with the "oopsies" Marge was wonderful :) She is so graceful and seems to enjoy the events so much :)

Eye "heart" Marge (ba-boom ba-boom ba-boom :)

Waggin and droolin at ya,

An English Shepherd October 24, 2010 at 4:49 PM  

I think she enjoyed it :-)


Kathy Mocharnuk October 24, 2010 at 5:21 PM  

I think perhaps more fun matches where you could reward Marge for like recalls to heel and get some connection points on the course. She looks a little stressy-but it looks like a normal stress not an over the top stress and not all stress is bad to work through... but also pretty driven and perhaps she just needs to learn the same job is the job she does in class and that she is still connected to you on course. I would break things down a little even if it is a real trial and sort of stop say at the end of the dog walk and sit and talk for a second while she is on her contact and you do your front cross, I personally would put that above pushing for time and just accept I will not Q for a bit, maybe even take the course and just do five or six obstacles and leave giving her a great experience and letting her stay connected the whole time in the ring.... I would do a lot of work on your criteria for the teeter, my dogs start pushing it if they go more then a few weeks since we have trained it. Other than that I would perhaps think about counter conditioning the whistle since you ccan not control when that might happen and maybe work out some routinue of tricks on the start line for when you have to wait-give Marge and yourself something to do that she really enjoys, maybe weaving through your legs, or sit up and high five, or puppy push ups, something that puts her in a happy mood and gives you something to do-that is the time i really start stressing personally..LOL---I personally find that the most stressful part of anything, esp if there is a weirdo thing like fixing a blown apart triple or a tunnel like that-that really makes it rough. I personally still think that Marge is just doing FABULOUSLY and this sort of thing is really to be expected. marge is a fantastic dog who loves agiity and has sooo much potential as do you...If she was an unhappy slow dog, or if she was willing to slow down and never move off your side then you would not have to go through this transition-you would continue to Q every time... but I personally think it is coming together you just have to be patient and keep chugging away and enjoy the journey, you guys really are IMPRESSIVe and I would not say that if I did not truly believe it-watch your video again and it really is not that bad, there is a happy dog with a pretty whoo hooo atttitude that probably does not have experience reconnecting to you once she gets a little disconnected, but chck out how she keeps looking for obstacles-and she wants to keep going-taht is not a dog that is stress by agility, she loves it, she might be a little stressed by the stuff around it, but it sure does not seem over the top. You really have done a great job training her but at this stage everyone has something to work through!!

Kathy Mocharnuk October 24, 2010 at 5:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy Mocharnuk October 24, 2010 at 5:26 PM  

PS forgot to say I am super glad that physically Marge was ok, she looks very fit!

Cyndi and Stumpy October 24, 2010 at 5:30 PM  

hey Sam! Marge looks great! She looks like she's having way too much fun! I think she may have been confused or trying to over correct, but I don't see stress. Subtle signs stress would be hard/impossible to see on the video.

Is Louie the videographer? Thanks, Louie! You did a great job! I don't know how you keep up with Marge with the camera!

Dexter October 24, 2010 at 6:20 PM  

I think Marge looked pretty happy there even if she was distracted and missed some obstacles. Gosh, I know the flying dismount off the teeter is wrong, but what a magnificent athlete she is. The last jump sequence was wonderful because it really showed off her form.

I don't know how you stand all the waiting around to begin with. I don't know what kind of indoor shows are available in your area. Around here they have them in extremely large facilities with lots of outside grounds for relaxing and walking about. However, I agree that the sound inside the building is going to be stressful for Marge the first time out.

Mango Momma

Diana October 24, 2010 at 7:10 PM  

I thought it looked pretty good. Trials are hard. And with a green dog, you are going to see things that pop up as you advance. I tell try and tell students about things that will pop up in open that you didnt see in novice. It just the way it is. The off course in the tunnel , I think, was you were too late with turning your shoulders. You need to let your dog know before she took off for that jump you were going to the weaves. You waited for her to almost complete the jump before you turned your shoulders. To late, she was already commmited to the tunnel. As for the teeter, I would have ran ahead and then decelerated to give her the cue that it wasnt the dogwalk.(at least for a novice dog.) You have a big strided dog and need to give her information sooner and stop waiting for her.
It takes a while to become a team so lots of runs will be learning experiences. You guys look really good. Give it time. Diana

Chris and Ricky October 24, 2010 at 8:06 PM  

I liked what Kathy, Diana, and Sara said! All really good advice I think. I also think Marge looks happy doing agility and not as stressed out - I do think you looks for signs of extreme stress from her because of your previous experiences with her - no doubt she has had many problems that you have done a great job of helping her with but if you don't ever let go a little with worrying then she won't be able to either (I'm not one who should be giving advice in the worrying department - LOL!)

I wish I had more real advice but we're struggling with our own agility issues and don't know what to do either - any way, I can totally sympathize with your feelings! Guess there is no law that says we have to trial at all if we don't enjoy it - I love the training and practicing but not really the trialing.

andrea October 24, 2010 at 8:41 PM  

Oh Sam :(
I'll watch the video tomorrow if I can sneak a second or two but your description alone tells me how worried you are ...

It sounds like there were things to celebrate about the day - though you haven't outlined them for me ...
a teeter fly off is usually what I call an "error of enthusiasm" rather than stress though her missing your cue could be stress

I'm thinking about your stress as much as hers and if you are worrying about indoor trials please don't do them until you are confident you won't set her back with them (fun matches/practise whatever you can do first)

You may or may not affect her but it certainly will affect your enjoyment of trials ...

hang in there

Lorenza October 24, 2010 at 10:10 PM  

I can't offer you an advice since I don't do any kind of agility but I like what I saw on the videos.
Sorry Marge was bothered by the whistle thing.
Take care
Kisses and hugs

Anna the GSD October 25, 2010 at 10:16 AM  

I know nothing about agility, but man Marge, you sure can FLY!! Just figuring out where to go is amazing! I think you're awesome, and as long as you're having fun with your person, that's all that matters!

andrea October 25, 2010 at 10:27 AM  

She sure does look sound :)

Ok - I'm going to trust that you know where this is coming from - a constructive place not a picky negative place
I watched the first video and I have some feedback for you ...

I LOVE that as you got worried you left the start line and did a couple of things then reset her.
She did a BEAUTIFUL start line stand stay .. she didn't move a muscle til asked too - BIG PATS to you both
DW worked ... I know you want more (I have seen people ask their dog for a down or something in the ring when they blow off something they know)
Super nice aframe!
You had stopped moving when you sent her out the panel jump - with your arm extended and no motion Sally would have read the tunnel very nicely and zipped there too
Nice weaves!! The jump off the table strikes me as her not being entirely sure that she was in the right place - you were still moving as she got on it .. again with my guys Brody moves if I move - stopping as she saw the table might have checked her just a little which might have let her get her down without jumping off
She sure is confident sending to the chute!
The teeter flyoff - all I heard you say was "teeter" - is that her command? When Brody went through a flyoff phase I made sure I was right there to control descent - and changed the word - that made me think about it more (flyoffs for an 11 pound dog can be pretty dangerous)
I like option you chose to end the course
You and she are amazing to watch - the lateral distance you have is impressive but don't feel badly about micromanaging a bit in a trial setting - it may allievate your stress (and hers too!)

BRUTUS October 25, 2010 at 11:30 AM  

Well, the bottom line is that only YOU know what is the right thing for your teammate. Do what you feel in your heart is the best thing for her :) That being said, here's my take on it for what it's worth...

Watching the videos, I see a happy dog out having fun. Maybe she was a little overstimulated, but considering her history and how few trials you've done, I think she looks awesome. She does so many things well, seems so eager to please you. I dream of being able to handle Brutus from the distance that you two can work from!

As far as the "get-in-the-ring-fast" push that they have at trials, here's a thought. Just mention to the judge during the orientation that your dog has some fear issues & kindly ask if you could wait until the prior dog is out of the ring before you enter. Most judges (and gate stewards) are receptive to this, since it can actually be a safety concern. There are a few dogs that Brutus just can't mix with, so it's something that I've asked for on a few occasions. As long as you do it politely and in advance, I can't imagine it will be a problem. That way you can keep Marge focussed with your pre-run routine if something weird happens in the ring.

It looks like to me you are ready to push your envelope and try some indoor trials. At least try one and see what happens. Look for a nice big, open venue (like a sports or soccer complex). If you take the whole winter off, I have a feeling you'll lose some ground - vs. the chance to grow if you continue to trial.

There you have it. Don't want to persuade you to do anything if you feel it is wrong for you & Marge, just my take on things. My congrats on how far you've come & for your continued success!


AC October 25, 2010 at 11:35 AM  

The foundation work with a fearful dog requires reading the subtle changes and responding quickly to them. I think this can become a bit of a curse too. It sounds like you're really focused on Marge's small reactions and not the bigger picture of the day (that Marge enjoyed the day/meeting friends/exploring). I think the bigger pictures gives you better insight into Marge's overall stress.

Even Marge's response to the whistle looked more to me like mild nervousness. Nothing near a phobic reaction. You were able to refocus her in a matter of seconds. (Yay!)

I'm with Ricky...if you're not loving it, maybe stick to the practice and classes that you do love and use trials as a place to let Marge hang out and socialize with no pressure of the ring.

KB October 25, 2010 at 5:07 PM  

I first read your post yesterday and then thought about it for a while. I honestly don't know what's best but I have a few ideas for things to think about. First, kind of a detail, but could you use classical conditioning to help Marge like the sound of a whistle? Second, I'm wondering if you have higher expectations now and Marge feels that pressure. I don't know the rules at trials but you could essentially turn them into non-competitive events for a while. For example, if you gave Marge treats on the course, you'd be DQ'ed (right?). So, why not just plan to give her treats for a few trials, removing the pressure from both of you. Third, my tendency when I'm having trouble with something is to work it over and over and over. So, when I was a bike racer and in a slump, I'd go to tons of races to make myself break out the slump. In contrast, if I do that with K in her training, she quits on me as soon as my intensity ratchets up. My third thought to put into your head is that what you might think would be the perfect solution for *you* might fail miserably with *Marge*. That's been a hard-earned lesson for me and K.

In any case, I hope that you and Marge can start loving agility trials again!

Sam October 25, 2010 at 5:23 PM  

Unfortunately, there is no venue that I know of that will allow me to DQ myself and give Marge treats on course. If I were to stop in the middle of the course and do that, they'd blow the whistle (yikes) and tell me to leave the course. It's not an AKC issue or anything, it's all venues - reason being, if they allow you to bring treats in to the ring, fragments might be left behind which could distract the other dogs.

I'm thinking about counterconditioning the sound of the whistle.. historically, it's been hard for me to do that with high-pitched noises - like I can't get the sound low enough. I wonder if I got an actual whistle and blew it very softly and gradually increased.. hm.

Kari in Alaska October 27, 2010 at 9:39 PM  

I am so sorry about the rough trial that you had. I think you need to see how your dog does. I don't believe that dogs feel slumps the same way humans do so adding in a new variable might not impact her in the way your think.


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