Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pan's Agility Drama OR Silly Setter Syndrome

Tonight's agility class was much better.

My sister's medical problems aren't cleared up yet and she will be undergoing another surgery. Since Pan lost so much time and is having trouble picking up where she left off (and my sister gets super frustraited with her when things get hairy) we decided to keep her going while my sister recovers (which will take somewhere around 6 months...minimum). This means my Thursday nights are going to be EXHAUSTING as i run 3 dogs in 2 hours, but i'm oddly looking forward to it.

In prep for this, and because Pan's agility class was worse than Trophy's last week, my sister and I are trading dogs until she has to drop out.

If Pan thinks she has done something wrong she shuts down. Mainly she does this by no longer paying attenting and instead going off and sniffing the floor. So my plan for her is as follows:

1. Try to make sure that if I screw up a sequence or handling move i do not let Pan know (cheering off course jumps instead of stomping my foot because my position was the problem, for example).
2. If she sniffs, get her to sit and watch me to soothe and recollect her
3. If she continues to sniff around or if she shows more signs of shutting down, take her off course with lots of praise.

When her brain is screwed on right and she's connected she is so beautiful to watch and she is so fun to run. She works great from a distance especially over jump patterns, and her silly setter mannerisms just make me love her even more.

Tonight our course was a more novice course, so lots of space between some obstacles. I find this much more difficult than the higher level courses we usually work on in class. Anyway. My first run through with Pan on the first half of the course was brilliant, even her startline stay! Then each subsequent run got a little fuzzier. The second half of the course we needed to do a front cross after a jump with a long stretch into another jump that was perpendicular to the previous jump and then into a tunnel. The front cross was difficult as i really had to run to get into position and i am really bad at giving myself enough room to front cross (i want to be close to the landing of the jump when i need to angle myself out more and make the cross more evenly between the two jumps).

That cross and the jump were the first cause of Pan's stress tonight. I didnt like the position i was in, it felt messy. Even though she made the jump, because i verbalized my dislike of *my* performance and pulled up to retry it again, Pan felt she had done it wrong and started the sniffing. When i got her into the tunnel where we then did a post turn to dog walk, i got her eyes out of the tunnel and i took my eyes off her to turn to the dogwalk yet we lost connection and she jumped up behind me onto the middle of the dog walk ramp. Managed to finish the run, but when our "put it all together" run also wasnt pretty the whole thing nearly fell apart. I had her sit and i petted her and i gave her a cookie, and we continued on, we pulled it together, but there's a lot to work on still.

The good news is that I adore her quirks, and she doesn't frustraite me like she does Tasha. (Her abismal startline stays annoy me more than anything else).

The one truly bright light is that i actually saw improvement in Pan's weaves tonight! Up to this point we have had to lure her entirely though the weaves (treat in front of the nose all the time) today she was able to let me stay on one side of the weaves and point her through to lure her back. She didnt have to have the cookie the whole time, i didnt have to akwardly weave my armpit out of the weaves, it was awesome! Babysteps!

Since Demo has started agility training my instructor and i were talking breifly about the dogs switching from flyball (an *extremely* independent sport where the dog works at great distance from the handler over a course that changes minimally between runs) to agility (a sport baised in communication between handler and dog where the courses change drastically between runs). Even though Trophy also started in flyball, he and I have a great working relationship from so many tricks and random training with him that he looks to me anyway for direction despite flyball. Pan and Demo on the other hand haven't had as much work on handler focus at home, so they try to think independently on the agility course to undesireable results.

Demo's class is going well, he's calming down around the other dogs. We were learning front crosses and post turns today. He is living up to expectations and wants to be way out in front of me over jumps, he is trying to stay with me, but he understands jumping ahead of me, not next to me.

All in all a really good two hours of class. I quite enjoyed it. :)

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