Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Return of Reacto-Dog!

Agility has taught me many things. Among them are Patience and Humility...

On Tuesday, I took Gilda to the park to work on her 'On the Flat' (OTF) skills. We had a fantastic session and worked on Loose Leash Walking, Front and Rear Crosses and speed changes. We did this for over 1.5 miles... until I ran out of treats!  Still, I was thrilled and was mentally patting myself on the back for my wonderful training abilities.

On Wednesday, I decided that Gilda was getting better with her Heeling at the park but needed more practice in public. I was sure she was ready so we headed to the pet store. At the pet store, she proceeded to pull so hard on the jaeger leash I was sure she broke a rib or two (mine not hers!). She was so preoccupied that she wouldn't even take treats. It was all very frustrating.

"Oh well" I thought to myself. "School is tonight and she always does well there". Flash forward to 'school' and multiply the pet store pulling by 1,000! It turns out that 2 new classmates and their dogs, Maya and Wally were present. Suddenly, my little reactive dog was right back to her old tricks: tearing off to meet the dogs in the middle of an exercise, barking loudly at me for treats, unable to pay attention to cues that she knows well. She was chaotic to put it mildly. This is where the patience (however thin) and humility come in. I realized that I wasn't doing quite as well as I had thought a mere 24 hours earlier...

In class, we had a refresher of the Serpentine Recall over a Jump followed by the introduction of the 270 Recall. Next, we did an exercise in which we started the dog on the Table and did a straight 3-Jump series. After a few rounds like this, the 2nd Jump was moved laterally so that the 2nd jump was now staggered. Not only did Gilda struggle with her Start Line Stay, but she basically acted as though she had never seen a line of Jumps before in her life!

We introduced the dogs to the Manners Minder (MM) which is a device that remotely delivers a treat ( http://www.amazon.com/Manners-Minder-Remote-Training-System/dp/B000ZTBX1Q).



We then used the MM at the end of Dog Ramp exercise in an effort to keep the dogs running straight down the Dog Walk. All of the dogs (even Gilda) did well on this exercise.

Next we used the MM with the A-Frame. The dogs were then cued through the Tunnel. Upon exiting the tunnel,  they had a long run to the A-Frame. Gilda did well here which is good because there was lots of space between the obstacles giving lots of opportunity for her to veer off course.

To really put an extra little touch on the day, while Linda was wrapping up class, Gilda proceeded to pee right there on the floor...Serenity Now!

If history is a good indicator, Gilda will get used to Maya and Wally and will soon be able to work in their presence. Here's hoping...

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