Thursday, March 10, 2011

Remember Where You Started...

Last night was a 'school night'. This was our second session of this class and already Gilda was much more comfortable working around Maya. Gilda's biggest problem in class continues to be Stress Sniffing and Linda is helping us formulate a plan to decrease this.

We did a lot of work on Pinwheel drills varying the placement of Front and Rear Crosses and attempted to work on Forward Sends. Drills are where Gilda gets increasingly 'sniffy' and her avoidance behaviors become more pronounced: she runs off in short bursts, runs to the door for a pee break, starts water seeking, and becomes distracted after the first obstacle.

I have to guess that my novice handling has a big role in this. I think that while she has made great strides in understanding her role on the obstacles, she is still very unclear about what I am asking her to do on the flat. When she is unsure, she stresses. I'm thinking we should add shorter foundation exercise drills into our practice sessions so that she can both learn and be successful.

With both dogs getting 'stressy' (Gilda more than Maya), we did some 6 obstacle sequences. It is obvious that Gilda enjoys this which makes it fun for me.

Last we demonstrated for Linda where we are on the 6-Pole Channel Weaves. Gilda is more consistent now so Linda recommended closing the Channels an inch at a time (after getting an 80% success rate) and then working to add an additional 6 Poles with all the Channels open to start. Linda reports that when you get a good 6 Pole Weave with the Channels all but closed, it is a much quicker process to progress to a 12-Pole Weave. This makes me believe that we are a lot closer than I thought we were!
(See FAQ 4: What are Channel Weaves )

{What is up with those ears?!}

While Gilda's sniffing and inability to pay attention can be frustrating in class, I only need to think about how far we've come since we started this Agility Journey. I remember thinking that I'd never be able to take her leash off in class, that she'd never go near a Teeter, and that she'd never be able to walk to the building on a loose leash among other things. Now she is doing all of those and more. Realizing this helps me to stay more patient with her and makes me think more positively about all that she will be able to do in the future...

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