Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Break for Dogs

I have found lots of reasons this past week or two not to practice Agility. Some are valid reasons others are convenient ones (who wants to go out into the cold rain if it's not absolutely necessary?)

{Gilda after Class}

As such, I was a little nervous about how our first class of the new session would go. Much to my surprise, it was great!
Now let me clarify what I mean by great...

When we got to the building, Linda was working with Dash on a difficult sequence. Gilda was able to enter the building and act fairly well behaved even with Dash, a fast and super-intense guy, moving around on the course. With no other classmates, Gilda was able to work off-leash fairly reliably with just her 'tab' in place.

It seems that Linda and I have agreed to forgo the Start Line Stay (SLS) in class for now. Linda holds Gilda's tab until I give the "okay" cue to Gilda. This small change in practice has had a huge positive effect on Gilda. Gilda is a dog who can hold a stay for an hour in most places (as long as a squirrel or deer isn't in the same area code). She is even much more reliable with her stays when we practice Agility. For some reason though, SLSs are very stressful for her in class right now. With Linda holding her at the start, she isn't able to go whenever she wants. She still has to wait for her cue. The improvement in her stress level makes it well worth the drawbacks for now!

Another seemingly small change was that I was much more careful with my handling of her collar tab. With Gilda being on the smaller side (we still do not have an official height on her), the tab is pulled taut if I stand straight up. This 'tight leash' situation seems to stress Gilda (and most dogs) so I was very careful not to put too much tension on her when I was holding the tab.

With two very small changes, we had decreased Gilda's stress enough that she was willing and able to follow cues, she was willing to tug (which she won't do when stressed) and she didn't try her 'I need a pee break' or 'I'm so thirsty I'll die on the spot' antics.

We did some interesting handling maneuvers with Gilda doing much better than me as usual! After working on small pieces of the sequence, we ended with:
Jump (45 degree turn), Jump, Tunnel (front cross), Jump (180 degree turn), Jump, Tunnel, Jump.

It was such a relief to feel like a team again and it was so nice to see Gilda looking excited to play Agility again. I really think she needed her Spring Break to break the slump!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great job on changing things up a bit and thinking outside the box!
Sue McGinty