Thursday, July 19, 2007

No, Me Go!

SUMMARY: In which Boost won't take a treat but nearly takes my hand off.

Last Thursday's class found Boost almost over the top, after no class for the preceding two weeks and no agility trials (just the Fun Match) to really take the edge off.

When she did her first Aframe, and it was a really nice 2o/2o contact, I ducked in to hand her a nummy treat, and she just ignored me, staring straight ahead. Nancy calls this the "No, me go!" behavior, which makes me laugh. Me have brain, me use brain simple thoughts, me Border Collie, me no eat--me go! So I have to insist, "No, you take treat!"--that she take the reward I'm offering to emphasize that (a) I'm scripting the show (b) it is a reward, dammit. Then she takes it realllllllly slowly, barely moving her head, eyes fixated straight ahead. I have no idea whether she's swallowed it.

She will, however, always take a toy reward. (Such as playing tug-o-war while holding her rear feet on the contact.) She LOVES her toy reward. She will go NUTS for a toy reward. I need to go back to rewarding her (with a toy & play) for taking treat rewards, since I need the option of using either in different situations.

(In the early part of that class, she panicked about something. We never did figure out what it was. Lasted about 10 minutes. Eventually calmed down and went back to work.)

Fast forward to last night. After Tika's class, I was beat and my knee was acting up, but Puppy had been in her crate for almost 2 hours and as usual I try to get her out just to do a couple of tunnels and weaves before Lights Out on Power Paws field and we head home for another half hour in the car. She was, once again, over the top. (She puts up quite a fuss in the car at times during Tika's class. I keep trying to leave the door open but eventually have to close it to shut her up or at least mute the noise.)

I did a wee bit of warm up, then led out and put her through a chute to practice calling her into a sharp turn after coming through the fabric. She went wide, but did come in to my right side and I rewarded her with the Riot Tug from my right hand. Don't remember whether I kept the toy in my hand or threw it, but I think I threw it. Now, repeat, with the intention this time of continuing to the weaves. She blasts out of the chute, turns sharply to come in towards my right side, and I step forward with right arm and leg (toy clenched in right hand) towards the weaves, and she came past at 90 miles an hour and snapped onto my hand. The pain--was tremendous--

She didn't keep holding--in fact I think I heard her teeth snap shut as she landed about 5 feet beyond me, but I was way too overwhelmed to really think about it. A couple of classmates came running over--from the far side of the field, they had heard a snap and thought it was my knee again. I thought maybe she'd broken my hand, but then realized I could move it fine, and in fact had barely even broken the skin in one spot. But it still really hurt. A little bump raised just under the skin, so I thought she'd broken a blood vessel.

They thought I should ice my hand; were afraid that I had broken it anyway and not realized it, but by the time I left a few minutes later, I could use my Monty Python voice to assure them it was only a flesh wound.

But this morning there's almost no pain at all, and just a little lump, right on top of the tendon going to my middle finger. I'm thinking that she must have hit directly on a nerve for it to hurt so much at the time and yet have so little to show for it the next day.

Dang toy-motivated dogs. Well, it IS darker on the field than she's used to, and she probably couldn't see very clearly...and she LOVES her toy reward...

Anyway, class today, we'll see how she does with everything.

3 comments:

  1. My instructor had to train in heavy work gloves when her BC was younger and even so her hands were always cut up. Her husband would tease her about the abusive relationship she had with the dog as she'd come in from training covered in bruises from him smacking into her and then she'd have all kinds of reasons why it was her fault.

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  2. I feel your pain! Jaime used to do the same thing (well, sometimes still does)and even Devon gets me now and then. It's just the price you pay for having such motivated doggies :-)They don't mean to do it but when you're moving that fast and the toy is basically an extension of your hand...

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