Sunday, March 10, 2013

Agility: Of Demo Drama And Panda's Meltdown

I think it is an understatement to tell you that my last two weeks have been bad. With two of our owners on vacation at work, right after they hired 3 new people (who weren't anywhere near fully trained), not to mention firing someone right before they left, the schedule had us *barely* staffed correctly. Then add onto that a coworker with the flu, and another who is pregnant, and no one on call to help out if anything happened. Oh, and what felt like a billion dogs in the building two different days last week, and i worked 6 days in a row instead of 5.

To say that i was stressed was an understatement. Thursday was a culmination of all things bad. I was looking forward to agility and my weekend (I'm usually off Fridays and Saturdays).

My sister has been off on Thursdays for the past several months, so i take Trophy and Pan to work with me, and then she brings Demo up with her since he's not comfortable with strange dogs enough to go to work with me any more.

So we meet in the small lobby of the building about 10 minutes before the previous class gets out. Demo is always super excited to see me, and he lets out his high pitched excited yip. Next thing we know a black dog from the class before ours comes tearing out of the agility room, teeth bared, snarling, and makes a beeline right for Demo. Tasha still has Demo's leash, she's spinning trying to not get bit while trying to get Demo out of the way and somehow grab the other dog, I'm screaming and trying to keep Trophy and Pan out of it, so I literally can't do anything to help, then the dog's owner flies in and full body tackles his dog. Luckily Dem didn't have a scratch on him, just some slobber.

My sister said that this same dog lunged at Demo before in passing one day when I was running late. My instructor said the dog is in play groups all the time and has never shown any aggression before, there is just clearly something about Demo he/she/it doesn't like.

So after my horribly stressful week, I now have two hours of agility where I'm afraid my already not dog-friendly Demodog might go off the deep end if anything gets in his space. I kenneled him for the first hour to relax.

Then I had to suffer through the biggest Panda Meltdown to date. The first half of the course was deceptively easy*- all the obstacles around the outside of the room (1-9) with one front cross after the A-frame. Pan ran this part really well, except she blew off her 2o2o.  I knew the first half was too good to be true and the second half was going to be torture - it was.

From the weaves we went into this extremely demotivating loop: (10-15) jump, tire, teeter - circle, back to the first jump and the tire again then straight to the next jump. After the teeter we had to send the dogs to that first jump again and cross to be on the outside of the tire. While trying to get my cross in the right place with help from my instructor (i always cross to close to the obstacle the dog is taking instead of giving myself room by making the cross closer to the next obstacle in the sequence) Pan's brain fell off the deep end. Something about that first jump (3/10/13) just melted her fragile mind. My instructor couldn't get her to run, Tasha couldn't get her to run, she just shut down and went into avoidance behavior overdrive.

Probably a lot of it was having to do it over and over so I could try to get my cross right, but even after we got her doing some jumps at the other side of the room if she went back down in that corner as soon as I cued that jump she wouldn't take it and she would go back into shut down mode.  UGH!  I was so discouraged by the end of it that we just stopped running her for the day as I wasn't able to give her the positive feedback she needed.

Next week is another day to try again, and that's all I can say at this point as I don't know what else to do... and work on my handling skills with Trophy while working on just Pan's skills with Pan.

I guess in that aspect I'm looking forward to my sister being off for a few months so I can work both dogs.  I can get my handling down with Trophy and then help Pan's motivation separately.  It's going to kick my ass, but if running 3 dogs in agility and 3 dogs in flyball doesn't help me get skinny by fall I don't know what will. ;)

Now, as for Demo, he actually did really well in class.  I put a gate up between us and the dog next to us as she is very sweet but almost too friendly and she always wants to come see what everyone else is doing.  Demo had no problems focusing on me.  Thank goodness for THAT single trait in him, or whatever training I did to get him there!!

In class we worked a bit on weaves, and contacts on a low a-frame and low dog walk.  Then the second half of class we worked some sequencing and crosses.  Demo refused the tunnel at first, so I had to warm him up to that.  And of course the little stinker is so darn FAST that it is very hard to get a front cross when I have to guide him into the tunnel and then try to beat him to the other side for the cross.   Hopefully next week will be better as i did a few reps of sending to a tunnel at flyball practice.  Even set a box up next to the tunnel for some discrimination and he got it.  Went to the tunnel every time and I was able to send him from about 15 feet.  WOO!  Hope we do crosses with the tunnel again next week, I bet it will be a lot better!

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