Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Training 44

Agility - And Lots of It
Our performance training has almost solely focused on agility for the past month or two.  Marge has improved in leaps and bounds.  I am still seeing start line stress, which I'm not happy about, but she's dynamite when she's on course.  More attentive than she ever has been.

For my next two trials, the plan will remain the same - very short lead outs.  If I don't lead out at all, it tends to make the run less structured for her because she doesn't understand the whole unclip-and-go start to a course.

Our first trial of the year is this Saturday - we're doing one run, JWW only.  This is because I really did not want the stress of running her in Standard for her first time at a trial in about 4 months (and at a brand new place on a brand new surface, to boot!).  The trial site is also quieter towards the end of the day, which I think will be good for her.  Our friend Spirit, the Golden Retriever, will be there, which I hope will make Marge happy.  This trial is a BIG deal for her.. and I really hope she likes the trial site.

A Bit of Barkiness
One thing that has cropped up to a very small degree is Marge's dog reactivity.  It's a bit different than it used to be and I'm not quite sure that it's really rooted in fear.

She has been getting barky at agility class watching certain dogs run.  Now that we're in an Excellent level class, the courses are harder and the dogs are more driven.  I think she's feeding off of their speed and energy level.  Once they come back to the sidelines to sit with us, she is paying them no mind (whereas in the past this would, at minimum, lead to raised hackles and general worry on Marge's part).

Time to go back to Look at That, I think.  Quite frankly, it's so mild that I am not worried about it at all, especially since I know how to combat it.  It might actually be a GOOD thing for trials - I mean, I won't be that girl with the annoying barking dog standing right at the ring exit, but perhaps the fact that she is more amped up in an agility setting will detract some from the worry and stress that she sometimes feels. I'll experiment.

New Folks, New Exeriences
I had a couple of friends over  on Sunday.  I put Marge in her crate while they came in and settled on the couch (which is not far from her crate).  She let out one "WOOOO!" while in her crate because she knew that there were people nearby.  I waited until she calmed down (10 minutes or so), and then let her out.

Not a hackle raised.  Just what I want to see!

She was not very privvy to being petted, especially by my male friend, but took treats from them both, investigated them thoroughly, and then sprawled out on the floor just a few feet away.  Very, very successful, especially since it's been a LONG time since she's interacted with strangers in my basement.

We also made a quick trip to PetCo for Layla's food on Saturday.  Marge did pretty well in the store - she was a bit uneasy, but was responsive to me, took treats, and searched for yummy stuff on the floor.  She interacted a little bit with two store employees, whose hands she targeted with her nose.

She got a Natural Balance food roll and a bag of biscuits out of the trip.  Unfortunately, she heard some loud noises on the way back to the car and panicked, but took treats once she had climbed in.

And that's Marge's current training, in summary.  I'd write more, but on top of everything else, I'm getting sick again.  Sinus infection and pink eye.  Lovely!


andrea February 22, 2011 at 6:22 PM  

sorry about the pink eye and sinus thing :(
everything else sounds good though - I'm excited for your agility stuff and I think a short lead out in trials is a good answer for now- even just a lateral lead out can be fantastic - I wish Brody had a lead out ;) (yep - you read that right the little rock star has no lead out!!)

Sara February 22, 2011 at 6:26 PM  

What a fantastic post about Marge! She is handling stressors like a champ. I bet she will do well at the new site.

Feel better soon.

AC February 22, 2011 at 6:49 PM  

I was sitting here, reading, saying, "yeah, yeah, yeah" to everything until I came to the pink eye stuff. No fun!

But gooooo Marge!! The barking at excited dogs is something I'm doing some foundational work to address with Kona, although she can lose it a bit beyond the barking. Like you're thinking with Marge, Kona's issue isn't fear either (woohoo!). She "just" has a low tolerance to excitement. This carries over with play with me as well.

I'm using relaxation protocol work but asking her to chill while I do all sorts of crazy things. Also working eye contact..I'll eventually ask her for this while other dogs are around.

Always something to work on! I'll be interested to see how you work on this with Marge. It sounds like it's not a biggie with Marge, but it's progressed quite a bit with Kona since she's gained confidence over the last year (go figure!)

Kirby, CGC February 22, 2011 at 8:15 PM  

Sorry to hear about the pink eye and sinus thing! Glad to hear Marge is doing even better though with the agility. I love reading about your dog reactivity situations, as I have this with Kirby. I have not taken him back to a pet store since this past fall (when he totally lost it over a dog). I am hoping that it will start to get better with rally starting soon.

Kirby actually has stopped barking at certain dogs and he cries when he sees them, is it excitement or worry? I'm not sure, although he seems fine when meeting them. It is something I sure wish I could figure out! But your postings on this sure help with my confidence.

Hope you will be feeling better soon,
Kirby's mom

Two French Bulldogs February 22, 2011 at 10:19 PM  

Good job Marge..
Benny & Lily

Unknown February 23, 2011 at 6:29 AM  

It seems Marge is doing very well and making progress in an excellent rate. I'm sure she will be fine.
About barking, Eva lately starts barking when we walk her out in the neighhourhood. She didn't do it when she was a puppy but recently there is a dog always barks at her and she will give one or two barks back. Eva only barks at this particular dog and I have no idea why she doesn't bark at others even thought the others do the same thing to her.
Sorry about your sinus and pink eyes, they are no fun!!!Hope you're feeling better now.

tula monstah February 23, 2011 at 11:33 AM  

Yah Yah Marge- woo are moving up the ranks in agility. And having strangers ovah without a problem.. i know how hard that can be!

keep it up,

KB February 23, 2011 at 8:42 PM  

Oh man, I get that same combo - sinus infection and pink eye. Take care of yourself. It actually landed me in the hospital once... primarily because I'm too stubborn to slow down.

I read the Layla update. And, I'm sure that you know this but the B12 might help with the wobbliness. That would be great outcome.

It sounds like Marge is really doing great in all aspects of life. I've seen the kind of barkiness in my dogs that I think that you're describing, and it always has been a sign that their drive is getting really high. When I did canine search and rescue, we'd purposely make a dog watch another do an easy search while holding the watching dog back but saying stuff into her ear to get her revved up. Now, I do the same thing with my dogs when practicing recalls, making them watch each other. They get so intense while watching (and often bark) and develop a huge drive to do their own recall.

I hope that's what's going with Marge!

Kari in Alaska February 23, 2011 at 11:57 PM  

On a totally unrelated topic, I love the coloring of Marge in that pic :)


ForPetsSake February 24, 2011 at 11:03 PM  

Awesome strides - I was especially impressed with the new people in the basement. This is a tough one for my Nyxie - she wants to interact and be a part of things, but her fear and anxiety rear their ugly heads. If everyone's calm and being dog-smart, treats win out. Then she'll bring her ball to them for the rest of the night.
Great job! Keep up the hard work!

Amy March 1, 2011 at 2:25 AM  

Great to hear about Marge's progress! We've also been making some progress with Buster's reactivity to other dogs when he's on leash but turning it into a game. When we're far enough away from the dog that Buster is not barking I ask him "Where is the doggie?" When he looks at the dog, I click and give him a treat. We're both having a great time.

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