Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Just Act Normal...

I was not going to blog about our most recent trial on 11/03/2013 because I wasn't real clear on what my learning lessons needed to be. After having such a great 2 day trial two weeks ago, this one seemed dismal. We had 1/4 Qs and Pico was not keeping a SLS, he was not Weaving, and he bailed off of the Teeter! It seemed like so much had gone wrong, I didn't know where to start! I was pretty sure most of it was my fault though!
Today I heard this line from the song 'Round Here' by Counting Crows:

"she has trouble acting normal when she's nervous"

and I knew that I had found at least one piece of what I really need to work on. So here's what happened...

{Me & Grumpy}
{Dog Torture: Snow White & Grumpy}

One day after our friend's Doggy Daycare Howl-O-Ween party, Pico and I traveled to Four Seasons K9 Athlete Center. Personally, I love the place. Pico, however, seems to get overly stressed when we trial there.

We were slated to run Full House 3, Standard 2, Snooker 3, and Colors 3. I was feeling really good since our last Trial weekend had been so successful. We started the day with Full House which I like, because as long as Pico stays away from the Table until I send him there, we can pretty much make our points before the buzzer. It's a lower stress game in my mind.

For Level 3, we needed: A) 3 Jumps, 2 Circles, and 1 Joker and B) at least 23 points total. My original plan was to flow around the outside: Jump, Jump, Tunnel, A Frame, Straight Tunnel, Jump, Jump, Dog Walk... 
I decided to watch other runs while I was waiting for our turn and I totally changed my plan! I figured that Full House was the only game I could risk trying an 'unwalked' course. It seemed like the buzzer was sounding quickly and I was afraid that my original plan would take up too much time. What I ended up with was:
(S) Jump (1), Jump (1), Tunnel (3), Jump (1), Jump (1), Triple (5), Tunnel (3) [Our Full House was complete here], Jump (1), Jump(1), Tunnel (3), Jump (1), Jump (1), Triple (5), Tunnel (3), Jump (0) [ we had already taken this jump twice] Table!
It was a boring, Pinwheeling plan but it worked!  We ended up with 30 points and a run time of 31.86 [SCT 40] for a second place Q! While Pico did not have a SLS at all, he did stay with me and focused throughout the run.

Next up was Standard 2. Pico & I need 2 more Standard 2s to clear our Level 2. I am very anxious to move on! So anxious, in fact, that Pico senses it... He was sneezing at the Start Line (it took me awhile to realize that this is a Stress Signal for him and he chooses the most inopportune times to start doing it).

So, there we were at the Start Line... Pico's sneezing and moving around, and I panic! {This is where the song line comes in: 'She has trouble acting normal when she's nervous} When he finally takes the first Jump, I am surprised (not really what you're looking for at the beginning of a run). Pico took the DogWalk, Jumps 3-5, Tunnel 6 and then sailed around the near side of the AFrame. He has done this before once with a Dog Walk and once with an A Frame. I'm pretty sure it's because I've lost contact with him because I'm too busy worrying about the FC to come and assume he take th AF. I performed a clumsy front cross after the AFrame which freaked him out, he took Jump 8, and then completely missed his Weave entry. I restarted him twice but he just wasn't Weaving so we moved on... Tunnel 10, Double 11. I freaked out again and attempted a very late FC after 11 (with clapping and everything to try and reel him in, poor dog). When I finally convinced him to take the Teeter, Pico made it just past the Teeter contact, looked at me with uncertainty because I was so far ahead, and bailed off the side. I was able to convince him to take Jump 14 and the Tire 15 and I was just glad it was all over. As if it wasn't embarrassing enough, a friend posted in on Face Book for me!! As much as I didn't want to, I did forward it on to Jessica for any insights and help.
We have plans to travel back to Four Seasons K9 Athlete Center to use their Teeter and Weaves in a 'No Pressure' environment to see if we can decrease his stress there.

Up next, everyone's favorite game, Snooker! Often, I look at the Snooker map and wonder how we'll ever do it but then I remember, Pico loves Snooker! It's the one game which he seems to understand that he needs to stay with me. It's probably more like I know he has to stay with me so I do a better job of staying connected with him...

Our Snooker plan morphed a few times but the final plan was: Red #1, Obstacle 6b, 6a, Red #2, Obstacle 5, Red #3, Obstacle 2 for our open and then our close of 2,3,4,5, 6a, 6b,7a, 7b
We practiced my plan for Jump 5 on the practice Jump a few times before our run. I would send him around to the backside of the Jump for our Red #2 and then Pull him around it to jump again in the same direction for Obstacle 5. He had no issues at all with this which gave me confidence that we could do it out there in the Ring!
When we were up, Pico actually gave me a Start Line Stand! I led out to 6b and released him. He performed the entire Open beautifully... Completed 2 and 3 and then refused to Weave! I tried and tried but he repeatedly popped out at the 3rd pole. At this point, we had 21 points of the 30 we needed to Qualify for Level 3. The buzzer rang and I chose to complete the course before hitting the table. Other than the Weaves, Pico really performed well with good attention and speed I thought.

Mike had driven with us to the trial and then left before our first run to travel to PA to visit family. Somewhere between our Snooker run and our Colors run, he returned to the trial site. This has caused us issues in the past and today was no different! During Pico's Color run, he repeatedly ran to the sidelines, looking for Mike and ignoring my cues in his desperation to find him. It was a stressful way to end for him!

I was so happy to find that once home, Pico was completely himself. He was thrilled to see Gilda and ecstatic to get out of his crate. [Which, by the way, he laid very nicely in during the trial! He had much less reactivity to people and dogs moving outside of his crate so that was definitely a bonus of the day]

Today we will go to the Agility Underground and practice both dogs on our 'home turf'. The plan for Pico today is to really reinforce his Start Line Stays, his Teeter, and Weaves and to try and work some Forward Motion Front Crosses. For Gilda the plan is to reward for increased speed, do some 2x2 work, and have some play time in the building!

The plan for myself is to work on Acting Normal When I'm Nervous...

{Triple? No problem!}


gscindy said...

Two steps forward and one step back :-) You and Pico are truly doing wonderfully - these are just growing pains!

And you are not going to be able to call yourself and your blog "Novice" for much longer - look at all the jargon and acronyms. The student is becoming the master - congratulations!

WonderPupsMom said...

thanks for ALL of your encouragement. It really helps me more than I can tell you. You are one of those 'great dog people' I tell everyone about. Thanks for taking the time to read. We will stay Novice as long as it takes! :)